Consumer anxiety curbs sales at US chain stores

TOP US store chains reported disappointing October sales yesterday, showing that consumers across the income spectrum were anxious about the state of the economy as they began their holiday shopping.

Overall, the 23 major US-based retailers that report monthly results posted an average 3.4 per cent gain in sales at stores open at least a year.

Retailers that have struggled recently against rivals reported some of the biggest misses: Penney and Gap posted comparable-sales declines. Most retailers did not lower sales and profit forecasts, though.

Macy’s said it still expected a gain of four per cent to 4.5 per cent for the current holiday quarter, while Gap and Limited Brands even raised their outlooks for the just-ended period.

Costco said US same-store sales rose nine per cent, below Wall Street forecasts of 9.8 per cent.